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tv   Nightline  ABC  August 2, 2012 11:35pm-12:00am EDT

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tonight on "nightline," they call her the plain jane bandit, the mystery woman who police say hit seven banks in california without a disguise. we tell you why it's her catchy nickname that could land her behind bars. accidental genius. a freak brain injury transformed his world. now this futon salesman sees mathematical formulas everywhere. inside his real-life beautiful mind. and mad hatters, out to prove the brits have nothing on us when it comes to outrageous
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head wear. we dare from team usa olympians to hit the streets wearing a wild and whacky summer games hat. >> good evening, i'm terry moran. well, tonight a reward of $10,000 is being offered for the capture of the plain jane bandit. after the mystery thieve struck seven different california banks in one month. while it may be unusual to have a woman topping l.a.'s most want the list, fbi data shows the number of female bank robbers has been on the rise in the past decade. best way to catch a thieve, could be all in the name. here's abc's david wright. >> reporter: they call her the plain jane bandit.
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one of l.a.'s most wanted. robbing more than half a dozen bank branches in the past three weeks. without even bothering to wear a disguise. >> her basic m.o., she'll approach the teller, usually she'll provide a demand note and ask for a specific amount. after that, the teller complies or sometimes they haven't. >> come on out, we don't want any trouble! >> reporter: ever since the untouchables took on mob barker and her gang, all the way back to bonnie and collide. >> i'm miss bonnie parker and this is mr. clyde barrow. >> reporter: female bank robbers have held a special spot in american crime lower. the image of patty herst wielding a machine gun for the
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liberation, inspired a musical tribute. women bank robbers are rare. >> it's 4 or 5% of the time that it's a woman. >> 20 years ago, california was the bank robbery capital of america, about seven a day on average. now that number has dropped to just over 200 a year, but even now, according to the fbi, only 60% of the bank robbers actually get caught. >> so 40% of the time the bank robber gets away? >> it's a huge risk for the robbers. the more times they rob, that rate goes up as well, increasing the likelihood they'll get caught. >> so the plain jane bandit may be living on borrowed time. >> now the tellers are recognizing her. >> i believe by now they'll recognize her, based on the media coverage. >> reporter: that's the main reason the fbi gives these folks
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such colorful names, hoping to make them recognizable. there's the going plaid bandit and the make it quick bandit. >> he keeps referencing, make it quick. >> there was the irreconcilable differences bandit, who cited his divorce while robbing. he recently got caught. >> the name, he said he hated it. he was disappointed. >> reporter: and of course there's the geezer bandit who has eluded capture for years, robbing dozens of california banks in a convincing mask. >> the geezer bandit could be anybody, but authorities now have an important break in the case. they know where he got the mask. the company spx in van nuys specialized in high end masks. they make the mask freddie
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krueger wears in the nightmare on elm street movie. criminals seem to like their masks for obvious reasons. >> this is the wall of shame. people have used our mask for illegal persurposes. >> reporter: a chinese defector used the elder mask to board a plane in hong kong and demand asylum in canada. the puzzling thing about plain jane is she wears no mask and settles for very little money. >> she's not getting much money. >> reporter: but still bigger than a cash withdrawal from the atm? >> definitely mine. i don't know about yours. >> reporter: still we're talking hundreds of dollars, not thousands, not millions. a huge risk for a very small pay-off. at this point she'd make more money turning herself in if she could collect the reward. >> u.s. bank is offering a
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reward up to $10,000 for the arrest and conviction of the bank robber. i think she'd want more, but she's not getting it. >> reporter: the fbi is defensive about the name they've given her. >> she's not that plain. >> reporter: but they're hoping at the rate she's robbing banks she'll soon be behind bars. i'm david wright for "nightline" in los angeles. >> david wright with the mask there looking just like the old geezer bank robber. just ahead, an accident took him from high school dropout to mathematical genius. how? inside one man's beautiful mind. you know what i love about this country?
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we now bring you the story of a man whose severe concussion suddenly made him a mathematical savant. it's a medical mystery scientists are still trying to unravel. a stroke survivor who became a brilliant sculptor to a young epileptic who mastered an entire language in seven days. cases like this, could this genius potential exist within us all? >> reporter: behind the counter at a futon store in tacoma, washington is not the place you expect to find a genius. yet jason padgett uses complex mathematical formulas everywhere he looks. >> when you walk through the park, i see trees and leaves and
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clouds. what do you see? >> i see pieces of the pith ag rein theerem. every curve, every tree is part of that equation. >> he doesn't have a college degree or even a background in math. then years ago, he was only interested in two things, working out and partying. he was walking out of this place, a karaoke club, when he was brutally attacked by thieves who beat and kicked him in the head repeatedly. >> all i saw was a bright flash of light. then i was on my knees on the ground thinking i was going to get killed. >> doctors said he had a concussion. in a day ear two, he noticed something remarkable. he couldn't dru, but he became obsessed withdrawing intricate drawings. he was drawing formulas we all learned in school, pi, the
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infinite number that begins with 3.14. >> i'm obsessed with numbers, geometry specifically. i dream about it. there's not a moment that i can't see it. it just doesn't turn off. >> reporter: like the mathematician played by russell crowe, researchers believe jason, too, has a beautiful mind. to understand jason, neurologist brit brogard and her team took him to finland for a series of tests. >> yep. >> reporter: a scan of his brain showed damage that was forcing his brain to overcompensate in certain areas that most people don't have access to. the result, jason was now an acquired savant. brilliant in a very specific area. >> that syndrome is the development of a particular skill that can be mathematical
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or artistic, but developed to an extreme degree, and makes the person super human. >> these pictures are only a snapshot of what's going on inside jason's mind. he mentally overlays a graph on top of each frame of sight and comes up with formulas everywhere he looks. >> for me, i see things naturally shaped whereas most people's minds see math as numbers. >> we took jason to a museum where the shapes and numbers lit up his mind and where he tried to explain the essence of his drawings and his vision of math in the world around us. >> it's a shape that you take apart into pieces and the pieces are the same or similar to the whole. so say i had a thousand pictures of you that were little and i put all those pictures of you in the right spot to make the exact same picture of you, but bigger. >> you consider all of this a
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burden or a gift? >> sometimes i'd really like to turn it off, and it won't. but the good far outweighs the bad. so i would not give it up for anything. >> reporter: his goal now is to get out of the furniture store and into the classroom, to hopefully teach others that math is as beautiful and natural as the world around us. i'm neal karlinsky for "nightline" in tacoma, washington. >> that is fascinating. next up, we dare the olympians of team usa to beat the brits at their own game, wearing wild and outrageous hats. organic artichokes, organic lettuce, organic kale...
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joining us now, my ko anchor, bill weir who is comes to us from london at the olympic games. >> good evening. an amazing day, historic day for the americans both in the pool and in the gym.
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thanks to gabby douglas. knownas the flying squirrel. she has a more dignified mon aker tonight, first african american all-around olympic champion, ever. the 16-year-old put together four gorgeous performances on the vault, bars, beam, and floor to hold off the graceful russians. see her dreams come true. aly raisman out of the medal hunt. as for the duel in the pool, the 200 meter medley was supposed to be the race where lochte took a medal from phelps, but phelps will not go gently interest that good retirement. another explosive gold for him to go with his 20 total. lochte settles for silver. on the women's side, a world record in the breaststroke, rebecca soni. so the u.s. has more medals than
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the chinese, but china has a couple extra silver, so they remain on top. among the many beautiful traditions the host nation provides the world, a hat. we saw it during the wedding, the jubilee, certainly during the olympics. thanks to our special olympics correspondent. >> do you guys like the hat? >> reporter: what would possess two of america's star beach volleyball players in this ridiculous hat? >> people are staring at us. >> they're right at home playing in their bikinis, but strap on this crazy con trappingz and they get much different looks. >> brilliant. >> a few words of explanation. ♪ >> reporter: if hat wearing were an olympic sport, team usa would have some stiff competition, because the brits would surely bring home the gold. from princess beatrice to posh spice, even camilla still has
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game. when if comes to whacky hats, nothing it too extreme. and any occasion will do. >> the brits have always been completely synonymous with hats. there's no rules other than big and fabulous. >> meet one of london's up and coming milners. >> i look quite sophisticated. no? >> yes, you do. >> reporter: her designs are all the rage, even pippa middleton had to have one. >> i've had lots of people order this hat because she wore it. shes the british obsession of hats dates back centuries, probably to this woman, duchess of devon shire, a distant relative of princess diana and fergie. legend has it she could pull off hats that were three feet tall. >> like lady gaga, kate middleton, we got our icons today. >> reporter: this is her latest design, just in time for the
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summer games. >> there you go. what do you think? >> and you have to wear it with style. >> and a bit of confidence. >> and walk like an olympian. >> reporter: which brings us back to the team usa volleyball players. we wanted to see if we could convince some of america's current olympians to try it on. take on the brits on their home turf. >> it was just announced that they have decided on your closing ceremony attire. they've added a piece to it. okay, we had to fib a little. >> i don't know what this is, though. >> can i wear it? >> yeah. >> you want me to put it on? >> yeah. let's see what it looks like. >> it's comfortable too. that's what i like about it. >> seriously, that's a sweet look. >> will it help me get my gold medal? >> yeah. >> i'll be marching in this? >> yeah. >> she kind of looks like a
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christmas, wreathy, reindeer, mickey mouse. we can pull it off, i think. >> so we were wondering what you thought. >> i give it thumb's up. >> okay, great. >> move it forward a bit. >> would we be okay if we wore this to a wedding? >> you've seen what some people wore to a royal wedding? >> we did. that's why we thought it would be okay. >> but on second thought, maybe there are some things we americans should just concede to the british. ♪ >> i'm going to have to come up with a bowler for the rest of my olympic reports. you know, when in rome -- or left-hand, i suppose. see you tomorrow night. >> thanks, bill. stop having so much fun there. you can see more of bill tomorrow on "good morning america," where he'll be reporting on all the latest results from the olympic games. thanks

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